Loree Draude talks about her experiences as one of the first female pilots to be integrated into a carrier air wing. She served in the US Navy for 10 years, from 1989 to 1999 and left active duty as a Lt. Commander. Loree was one of the first female aviators to make the West Coast deployment of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, USS Abraham Lincoln.
On Oct. 25, 1994, the then Lt. Draude flew her S-3B Viking (see below) aboard the Lincoln to begin her first six-month deployment as a Navy pilot. It was an important day for another reason, too.
That same day Lt. Kara Hultgreen, a female F-14 Tomcat fighter pilot, was killed trying to land on the Lincoln.
Hultgreen’s death reignited a firestorm of controversy over whether women should be allowed to fly high-performance combat aircraft so Draude inherited both the underlying resentment of high-performance Naval jet fighters.
From her early days in flight training, however, through to her assignment aboard the Lincoln, Draude experienced some institutional resistance to female pilots and some of the hostile atmosphere that obstructed the training and assignment of women to this highly specialized military combat role.
The following YouTube video is of former USN Tomcat RIO and Naval Academy graduate, Novelist, Military.com Editor, Commander Ward Caroll, interviewing at length (43:12 long video), Loree Draude. We think you will find this interview by a fellow Naval retiree, an inciteful and highly fascinating experience. You will come away with a better understanding of what our earliest female combat pilots had to endure in order to succeed. Suggestion: View this video FULL SCREEN.